"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"

Feb. 2018
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Opinions on hifi mags - rags aimed at the gullible?

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  • Opinions on hifi mags - rags aimed at the gullible?

    As a lapsed audiophile returning to the fold - although I really only ever got interested in better quality gear for the music - I wonder about the reputations of the mags these days.

    Back in the 1990s, one dealer I respected said he only ever paid attention to Stereophile and Gramophone (I think it was). All the others were crap.

    I had already come to the conclusion myself in the 1990s that What HiFi was a junk 'informercial' advertising rag aimed at the gullible. Everything every issue was a "killer system", nothing was ever criticized, and the focus was on selling low to mid priced gear. Perhaps it has improved, I don't know.

    What publications do people recommend?

    EDIT: given this thread, maybe none! LoL.

    EDIT2: I would add that I do not believe all reviews to be insincere, misleading or unhelpful. To the contrary, I have read reviews of gear that were right on the mark to what my own ears told me. And I think good audio writing is quite difficult - the experience of sound can be highly subjective and almost every adjective has become cliched.
    Last edited by Phil100; 04-06-2011, 11:25 AM. Reason: reference relevant thread

  • #2
    Individual reviewers

    Hello again, Phil.

    I only look at The Absolute Sound, and that with a grain of salt. The good writers there are Wayne Garcia, Jonathan Valin and, my favorite, Paul Seydor. Paul has written a couple Harbeth reviews, and his words tend to line up with what I hear. Garcia looks at stuff from interesting angles, Valin reviews the mega-buck stuff-but does it well.


    • #3
      I rate Stereophile for the objective measurements and rate HIFI+ for the nice writing and layout. I also rate the online ToneAudio Magazine. German magazines are mostly o.k. too and thorough, although can be biased towards German brands.


      • #4

        For me > StereoTimes with the very nice "analogue" text-touch from Paul Szabady.
        In his time he reviewed alot of Brit brands and loves Harbeth, Rega an Originlive.

        Also see (with refs to other Harbeths) >


        • #5
          The end of serious magazine reviews - beware!

          Originally posted by Phil100 View Post
          ...I wonder about the reputations of the mags these days...

          ...I had already come to the conclusion myself in the 1990s that What HiFi was a junk 'informercial' advertising rag aimed at the gullible. Everything every issue was a "killer system", nothing was ever criticized...
          I believe any honest journalist would agree that this judgement back in the mid-nineties put an end to any serious magazine criticism of products, certainly in the U.K.


          • #6
            The 'expert' media - should be a better cross-section of listeners?

            Like any other consumer website/magazine, we’re relying on opinions of other parties, and unless there is sufficient objective elements to outweigh what may largely be personal perceptions and opinions (especially “experts”), we just have to be umm… active readers. The business model of most magazines and consumer objectives, do not run parallel but the most successful rags imo appear to be the ones which have closed this distinction.

            The ideal “hifi” magazine, imo, will be one where the opinion makers are made up of a cross section of stay at home 20 to 30-something moms (especially those who hold the purse strings), high school and mature aged (below 35 years) students, an electronics technician, musicians (below 35 years) and of course the odd Audiophile (age not a factor, chuckle) - all given a crash course in active listening and music history. I’d read what they have to say.


            • #7
              Hifi mags need advertising to stay afloat (fact)

              This has been tried and probably still is with one UK magazine. They had/have no permanent staff except for the Ed and one other, so the majority of reviewing and writing was done by staff members from other mags in the group.

              We then had the laughable situation where someone with no interest in Hi-Fi and not even a system, was writing about the quality of equipment loaned to them. With no knowledge, expertise or experience to base their findings on, the mag ends up with totally useless articles.

              The major problem with the mags is that their circulations are so low, they can no longer write for the reader. All that keeps the mags afloat is the advertising and they can't bite the hand that feeds.


              • #8
                We in the forums - objective, scinetific thinking

                In the end, we in the forums, can give opinions that might be helpful for others. But we still have to be critical reading a forum or a magazine. For me, it is more in the way that the thinking will be elaborated, with objectivity in mind. All in a kind of scientific way. That gives credibility to someone exposing an opinion.